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SEO or Search Engine Optimization

You may know what a search engine is, but what does it mean to "optimize?" To start, let's talk about how a search engine works.

Search engines use software known as "spiders" or "bots" to crawl across websites and interpret the information found on those websites. The bots then use algorithms to index that information, and decide whether or not the information found in particular websites is relevant to any given keyword search. For example, when you use a search engine like google to type in the keywords "personal injury lawyer", the search results will return links to various law firms or law firm directories in your area. This is because the google bots scanned these websites and interpreted them to be most relevant to your search, and even organizes them in order of relevancy!

Search engine optimization is a way of molding your website in a way that the bots will interpret your website as being "optimally" relevant in a variety of different keyword searches.


To understand the use of SEO you must first consider the purpose of a website. To sell a product/service, to get others involved in your organization/cause/etc. Websites are built to be seen, but other than directly telling a person the URL of your site, there is only one ideal way for people to find it: search engines! And because Google is the most popular search site (and the runner ups actually use Google's search system anyway), it is only sensible to optimize a site to Google. Back to the personal injury lawyer example, if you are a lawyer specializing in that practice, you want people to know about your services so that you can make money. Google is probably the most lucrative form of advertising out there today, but a huge percent of people satisfy their searching needs on the first results page, and even a larger percent of googlers don't ever go beyond the second results page. So if Google returns hundreds of thousands of results pages, how do you become one of the 10 on the first page, or even one of the 20 on the second page?

There are two ways:

  1. The first of which is called pay per click advertising, or PPC. This involves paying Google to place your site either as one of the top three links (often with a different color background to distinguish from the organic search results), or as one of the links on the far right side bar. To obtain a spot here you must be the highest bidder, and this can be incredibly expensive. An average PPC price for the keyword search "personal injury lawyer" in Google is a little over $20 for the Tallahassee are right now. Naturally, the more people you send to your website, the higher chance you have of obtaining a client. But to send as little as 100 people to your site (which may not result in even one client) will cost you $2,000! And to add insult to personal injury attorney, consumer research has shown people often believe the PPC results are spam- and go straight to the free results.
  2. Luckily, there is another method of getting your site to the first or second results page. That is where SEO comes in. The free (organic) section of the results page is where the bots place the pages that seem most relevant. SEO experts can place the keywords in certain parts of the coding of the website that will allow Google to assess it as relevant. How can it be the most relevant? Well that all depends on how good your SEO expert is. Programmers can't ever guarantee a placement in a specific area on the Google search results, not unless they also work for Google developing search bot algorithms, but it is possible to do (and free). To send the same 100 people to your personal injury attorney website, it costs you nothing more than the price your SEO expert charges (or nothing if YOU are the SEO expert); and for an additional 100 clicks every day (which is a realistic amount of traffic if you hope to gain clients) it costs nothing more!



Site owners started to recognize the value of having their sites highly ranked and visible in search engine results, creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase search engine optimization probably came into use in 1997.

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag, or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. But using meta data to index pages was found to be less than reliable because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.Web content providers also manipulated a number of attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.

By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, allowing those results to be false would turn users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate.

Related Links:

Google rules the world -

Search Engine Optimization -

Tips to Remember:

  • Google won't spider any URL that looks like it has a Session ID in it, so URL's with longish numbers in them must be avoided. These are usually dynamic URL's
  • You should make sure that all pages link to at least one other page. "Dangling links" are links that do not link out to other pages or a link to a page that Google has not indexed, and should be avoided as well. Google removes the link shortly after the start of the calculations and reinstates them shortly after the calculations are finished. By doing this, their effect on the PageRank of other pages is minimal.
  • Inbound links are links to your page from an outside source and come in handy when you want to increase your site's total PageRank. Another way is to simply add more pages. Google recognizes that a webmaster has little to no control over other sites linking into a site, therefore sites are not penalized based on where the links come from.
  • Outbound links leak PageRank, and as a result, are a drain to the site's total PageRank. To avoid this, try to ensure that the links are reciprocated. PageRank is leaked when Google recognizes a link to another site. Simply use links Google doesn't recognize or count. These contain form actions and links contained in javascript code.